2013-09-20

Reflecting on the sabbatical

This first sabbatical of mine still has a little more three weeks until it finishes officially, but psychologically it has already finished for me as I am starting to prepare materials for the courses I am supposed to teach in the new academic year. So this seems to be a good opportunity to reflect on this first experience and learn lessons for the future sabbaticals.

In overall terms my biggest problem was time management. Ironically, but quite expectedly, since I had far more free time than when I used to teach, I used it less efficiently. I am afraid that if I had not spent my morning hours at a yeshiva, I might have used my abundant free time even less efficiently.

But even if I had used my time efficiently, I might not have been able to do everything I planned and wanted to do on sabbatical - to read as much as possible in six areas of linguistics. But in the first month of my sabbatical I already understood that this plan was too unrealistic and had to adjust my plan drastically and concentrate on two of them, which are directly related to my current research topic. Although I could read quite a lot in these two areas, there still seem so many things to read, and this is nothing but a beginning in a seemingly long path to attain my self-imposed goal, as I also have to think about what I read on the topic and propose my own thought on it. I have also started wondering if I am good enough to reach this goal at all. I remember this feeling from the days when I was still struggling with my dissertation, but this time the feeling is far more overwhelming.

Another reason why I could work less efficiently is that since I spent more time with myself, various fundamental questions of life, about which I was too busy to think otherwise, did not stop bothering me, which in turn prevented me from concentrating on academic reading. The biggest anxiety was and still is the fear of the future, especially because I am an immigrant who has no family here, either by blood or by marriage. In a sense this sabbatical was also a kind of simulation of life after retirement.

In short, this sabbatical has made me realize so keenly how limited I am both as a researcher and as a human being and in which areas I am specially weak. Now I am asking myself how I can overcome or at least compensate for my own limitations and weaknesses. This is the "homework" for myself until my next sabbatical.